We will have no reason to exchange opposing notions if we both agree that war is of harsh consequence and its attendant effect no one can tell with exactitude, it is one of the vicious consequence of humanity, it has been with us for as long as the blood in our vein flows.
In the light of the above, we must state without doubt that the fore light of wars looms in the four corners of the nation Nigeria, it is not out of place for one to predict a second civil war giving the happenings, the failed attempt to nip from the bud the malevolence of certain disparities such as ethno-religious bias and corruption have seen the cankerworms eat deeply into the integration of Nigeria that a disintegration appears the way out- just like a man who has allowed the venom of the snake spread to his thigh hence must cut off the leg or risk his demise. Nigeria as a nation consist of three major tribes and minority groups, the ideologies of these groups are parallel to the other, hence, the need for a federal system is adopted to accommodate these differences, these however, has not solved Nigeria’s problem of disunity as the questions that surround the 1914 amalgamation are still recurring nonetheless.
Ab initio the unity of Nigeria has never been embraced with wide arms, persons have argued that the 1914 amalgamation was without consent nay, it being voidable, others have protested that it was a selfish decision of the British government under the stewardship of Lord Lugard for the self-purpose of economic balance and easy rule. Whichever the case, we have lived past it by some mysterious means, we have celebrated independence and suffered the mishaps of a civil war, the happenstance and consequence of military intervention and the attendant challenges of democracy.
Be that as it may, the eastern part of Nigeria since the early years of independence have always wanted a way out of Nigeria, this led to the first civil war and in 2017 the upsurge is just as loud as in 1967 albeit, the varying clime and time.
The Buhari’s government has witnessed an infamous and unpopular identity nationwide especially in the east. (I stand to be corrected). Amidst the many failings of the government is the security threats hovering just above the head of the government, the self-governance sought by the IPOB, the continuous killings of Boko Haram, the Fulani Herdsmen bedevil of citizens, the militants of Niger Delta and the Arewa threat to mention but a few. However, the government perceives the struggles of the IPOB to be of imminent devastating effect on Nigeria’s territorial integrity hence, its troubling actions to reduce to rubbles the agitations of the IPOB; from the arrest of their leader Nnamdi Kanu, refusal to grant release and most infamously, the activation of OPERATION PYTHON DANCE by the Nigerian army in the eastern region of Nigeria particularly, Aba in Abia state. If the rumour are anything to go by then the things I fear may chance, by rumour, I mean, the unnecessary killings, the attack of the headquarters of National of Journalist in Abia, the attack on Nnamdi Kanu’s home and other villainous act attributed to the Nigerian army. This act no doubt has been unwelcoming, considered an infringement on fundamental rights and abuse of power despite the few who speak for it.
It is predicated on these and lot more that I lay siege to the premonition of a second civil war and like the Shakespearean soothsayer “we need beware of the Ides of March”
The law stands as a touchstone on the guiding precepts by which human live by. Thus, law is agreed to be a means of social engineering. We live by the prerogative of the law. To this end, we have witnessed the birth of international organizations such as the United Nation, ECOWAS and the European Union and a host of others all with the aim of maintaining harmonious co-existence between member states, this it does by enacting regulatory laws to watch the acts and guide the actions of member states. States have not themselves not follow such pattern as they make and domesticate laws municipally to guide, protect and foster its citizenry, Nigeria not left out in this sane act of righteousness.
Upon this backdrop, the laws that guide Nigeria is plentiful, laws are made upon requirement and the need fill a lacuna or patch-up a laxity etc. the sole aim remains to guide and guard the jurisdiction and save it from falling victim of Thomas Hobbes Hobbesian premonition of a life that is short, brutish and nasty. Without further gilding of the lily, effort must now be invested into the relevant laws that aptly captures the circumspect of our discourse.
The constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria provides fundamentally for human rights as etched in chapter four of the 1999 constitution as amended, these rights are enforceable and not mere letters to wit upon, they also receive the blessings and significant graces of international organizations via their etched laws in agreed instruments like African charter and the UN charter. In similar vein, the constitution inherently provides the extent and confines of the exercise of functions/powers of the three arms of government as visible in section 4, 5,6 and all other relevant sections invariable to this score. More noteworthy is the salient fact that the constitution stands as the supreme law over the land, this is provided for in sections 1 and 3, the import of a joint reading of the both sections is to the effect that the constitution is of a binding force on all and sundry without exception, in continuity, the constitution does not attempt to condone an inconsistencies with its letters as to such extent it deems it void and rendered to nullity.
Having noted the above, the outplaying event in Nigeria is more or less a face-off between the fundamental rights of her citizens as against the powers of the executives particularly, the powers of the presidency, this tussle has thrown Nigerians into equal divides and opinions have been aired with contrary positions as well, with regards to fact, the issue is as to the legality or otherwise of the deployment of the Nigerian army to south eastern Nigeria and the implementation of the “ Operation python dance.” While some have condemned the act as being an affront to their fundamental rights and a constitutional abuse of powers of the president others have taken shields for the president holding rigidly that the act is within the riverbanks of the constitutional powers of the president and that such an act is necessitated as matter of necessity however harsh it may appear.
An interplay of the facts in issue has seen sections of the constitution being put into combat for example, the absolute nature of rights inscribed in sections 33 – 44 vis-à-vis section 45, the determination of powers of the president and functions of the Nigerian Police vis-a-vis Armed forces to which effect sections 215 – 219 have all been brought into play. Invariably, the role of the national assembly is not left off the hook just as much as the many other interwoven issues.
In the light of the above, sections from the constitution has been plunge into multifarious interpretations of the wordings of the constitution, each viewing it from their lens and interpreting to suit their arguments. Indeed the law is an ass which any man can whirl and whip to his favour.
There can be no much emphasizing the rancor and division the present happenings have caused, the swallowed bile of the 60’s seems to have resurrected and its ghost seems to be on the haunt, it appears to have taken the same shape of ethno-cultural disparity and too many perspectives have been the apple of discord that we ignorantly chew.
It reasonably follows that, given the similar situations of the 60’s and now, one does not need a soothsaying power to know that the fore lights of war has shown and it is in the loom in fact, it has started in our hearts, waiting for that last straw to break the Carmel’s back and ignite the shadows of another civil war.
Without further ado, concerns shall now be laid upon the twist that interweaves the law. Ultimately, the highest denial of human right is the violation of the right to life which is provided for in sections 33 of the constitution, it must be noted that human rights are in themselves not absolute as there are qualifications to them. This is the import of section 45 and other subsections containing caveat to the general rule as in section 33(2). It therefore flows that in contemplation of the violation of right to life, one must lay side by side the fact of loss of life et the caveat that shrouds it before one can conclusively state a violation has been done. Having noted the above, we admit that the happenstance in Aba is evidently an opportune case to carry out this legal test; no doubt there have been loss of lives attributed to the Nigerian army in similar vein, can these killings find succour in any of the caveat as stipulated in section 45 or section 33(2). The import of sections 33(2c), is to the effect that a person cannot be said to have been deprived the right to life if it as a result of an attempt to suppress a riot, insurrection and mutiny. Relatedly, the question of whether there was a riot, insurrection or mutiny that warranted the killing of persons garbed with right to live begs for an answer most desperately. We do not deaf our ears to the excuse by many that the agitation of the IPOB is insurrection in itself, but we submit diligently on the score, that it would be shallow to rely on such reason as sufficient to invade a peaceful state, void of any protest worse of all no act of violence other than mere words and even taking a second state of killing persons for unexplainable reason other than the misconception that they are either members of the IPOB or considered threat to Nigeria’s unity even in their armless state. In the name of any and everything civil, such act is lamentable especially in a country that appears to be religious adherents of democracy and respect to human rights. Woe indeed betides should such act be seen as a protection of territorial integrity or an attempt to nip from the bud the IPOB. Such villainous act should be frowned upon if the sanity of the nation is to remain. It is no less a violation of human right and no more as crimes against humanity.
Reason will lament over my grey hair if I do not state that the government have a duty imposed on them to protect the territorial integrity of the nation this apparently includes the maintenance of an indivisible entity. However, the end does not always justify the means, sometimes if the means is taken in error the end may not be the expected. Fear and hate has never been the father of loyalty rather it is a brother to contempt and a father to adversity.
In escape of verbosity, the above espousal shall suffice as my position for the violation of other human rights as listed in the constitution for which the Nigerian government fall within the ambit of infringement.
Another issues that strikes for comfort is the deployment of the Nigerian army to the eastern region, this also has polarized men of the letters into splits; a divide seeing it as a constitutional duty of the president, the other divide seeing it as an abuse of power by the president. The law to this effect is trite in sections 215 – 219, more aptly, 217.
Sections 215(3) saddles the president with the power to give lawful directives to the Inspector General of Police in maintaining peace and order and protection of public safety.
Sections 217(2), gives life to the functions of the armed forces of the federation which are listed therein, section 217(2c), bestows the army with the right to suppress insurrection in aid of civil authorities when called upon to do so by the president. Subject to such condition as may be prescribed by an act of the national assembly. In this case is the Armed forces act of Nigeria.
An interpretation of this section, means the president has an inherent right to deploy soldiers in cases of insurrection, notwithstanding it must be in compliance with constitutional provision. i.e, it must be in aid of civil authorities e.g. The Nigerian Police force and subject to the conditions stated in the Armed forces act.
I do not intend to play the devil’s advocate and play numb to the idiosyncrasy exhibited by the IPOB members and apologist, their fanatic belief of a “BIAFRA” has plunged them to a brutish cockpit of misdeeds and misstatement, their actions are not laudable and must be eschewed hence, I do not condemn the attempt to nip the bud of IPOB. I however, condemn the approach used in nipping from the bud. The deployment of men of the armed forces on civilians amongst who many are innocent of the evils of IPOB is too harsh a response to the agitations of IPOB or its anticipatory actions. It begs the question of whether the government is sensitive to the plight of its citizenry. Two wrongs have never made right.
In conclusion, I do not aver that Nigeria’s unity is non-negotiable, In fact I think it is negotiable albeit, we can also negotiate the terms upon which, we shall live by. We are at the precipice of a disintegration that may just be climaxed in war, I fear the lives that will be spilled, I fear the uncertain, I can’t speak if I will live to tell the woes but while I can speak, I will. Nigeria needs to look into its structure as a nation, restructure and find a way to accommodate all ethnic disparity. Lest, we may be left to pen our history with feathers soaked in blood and written on rubbles.